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'Game of Thrones' fans invade Dubrovnik

July 14, 2017

The seventh season of "Game of Thrones" is starting. Many key scenes were shot in the Croatian town of Dubrovnik. The town is seeing large numbers of young tourists.

Kroatien Dubrovnik von oben
Image: picture-alliance/ZB/K. Schindler

The old center of Dubrovnik, with its medieval fortress, city walls and attractive harbor, is like a historical film set, apart from the crowds of tourists. Once a year, Dubrovnik becomes a setting for the fantasy saga "Game of Thrones." The seventh season begins on TV in the US on July 16 and in Germany on July 17. Some key scenes for the series were shot in Dubrovnik, which is home to some 40,000 residents.

Dubrovnik Touristen Stradun
Young tourists are crowding Dubrovnik's places and narrow streetsImage: picture alliance/dpa/Pixsell

Ideal setting

The narrow streets in the old town are ideal for portraying King's Landing, the capital of Seven Kingdoms empire. Filming took place at the fortress, out at sea and on the city walls. 

The award-winning series is based on a book by George R.R. Martin. One of the authors and producers, David Benioff, said discovering Dubrovnik came as quite a shock. The whole place looked just as they had imagined it.

The first series was shot on Malta.

Dubrovnik's old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was an ideal setting for the final episode in the fifth series when Cersei Lannister was forced to walk naked through the town.

Kroatien Dubrovnik
This view makes filmmakers getting down on their knees - Dubrovnik's old townImage: picture alliance/dpa/ Prisma

Filming lasted four days and costs around $200,000 (175,000 euros). "Game of Thrones" is a costly undertaking. The studios are in Belfast, and many scenes are filmed in Spain and Croatia. Local businesses forced to close for filming receive compensation.

Filming interrupts daily life

During filming, tourists cannot access many places of interest. But there are special "Game of Thrones" tours for the fans. Jelena Simac is tour operator at "Dubrovnik Secrets." She guides tourists - many of them with fan-shirts - to the original locations where "Game of Thrones" was shot. She shows them photos from the series and where episodes were filmed on location. Computer specialists integrated a lot of buildings afterwards into the setting. 

Dubrovnik als Kulisse in "Game of Thrones"
Tourist guide Jelena Simac with photos from the filmsets Image: picture alliance/dpa/T. Bremser

The old town of Dubrovnik is not accessible by car. The crew has to carry the heavy equipment up numerous steps. Episodes for the new "Star Wars" movie were also shot in Dubrovnik as well as for the "Robin Hood" movie, set for release in 2018.

"The series has attracted many young tourists to Dubrovnik," Jelena Simac says. The city offers many "Game of Thrones" guided tours, some with guides in costumes. Tourists can also have their photos taken in a souvenir shop sitting on a replication of the Iron Throne from the series.

sonniger Tag in  Dubrovnik
Fort Lovrijenac doubles as the Red Keep in King's LandingImage: picture alliance/Pixsell/G.Jelavic

The fantasy series will end in 2018. That will mean a sad loss for Dubrovnik. But locals hope the final series will also be shot partly in the Croatian port city.

Thomas Bremser (dpa)